Ted Nugent: teenage enthusiasm in granddad's body
LAS VEGAS |
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Ted Nugent is exuberantly excited most of the time, but he grows even more animated when asked if he ever tires of playing "Cat Scratch Fever," the 1977 hit he's played thousands of times in a 40-year career.
He shouts repeated obscenities, then picks up a guitar and plays part of both "Cat Scratch Fever" and his 1975 song "Stranglehold" with unbridled enthusiasm.
"When I get on stage, I know what it means to people, I know what it means to me. It's a timeless masterpiece guitar song, how can I not play that?" he said in his dressing room before a recent concert at the House of Blues in Las Vegas.
At age 58, Nugent still brims with teenage enthusiasm for hard rock music. He is also one of the nation's most outspoken gun and hunting advocates. And he is considering a run for political office.
Mixing the unbridled personality of actor Robin Williams with the vocabulary of an urban rapper, the father and grandfather still performs about 70 concerts a year in which his music stays true to his hard rock roots with a relentless beat.
"I haven't lost the energy but I have learned how to better and more efficiently channel it."
People close to Nugent confirm his manic ways. "He's pretty much that way all the time," said singer and guitarist Derek St. Holmes, who has played with Nugent since the 1970s.
A board member of the National Rifle Association, Nugent says he spends about 200 days a year hunting, guiding clients to places such as his Michigan hunting preserve, as well as Alaska, Africa, California, Colorado, Texas, and Canada.
He favors hunting many different species, including elephants, mountain lions and tigers, and only when pressed comes up with a few animals he believes should not be hunted, such as penguins.
From Detroit and known as the "Motor City Madman," he has performed nearly 6,000 concerts in his career and releases his 32nd album, "Love Grenade," on September 4, which sticks with the sex and rock formula.
For all of his wild-man antics, the politically conservative Nugent is talking about following in the footsteps of celebrities such as actor Arnold Schwarzenegger or wrestler Jesse Ventura, who won gubernatorial races.
"That would be beautiful," Nugent said when asked if he would run for governor of Michigan in 2010. "I have threatened to do so and I was sincere."
Some of Nugent's antics make even Schwarzenegger's past outspokenness appear measured by comparison.
"Michigan was once a great state. Michigan was a state that rewarded the entrepreneur and the most productive, work-ethic families of the state. Now the pimps and the whores and the welfare brats are basically the state's babies."
Nugent refuses to mince words and often uses a racial epithet to describe blacks that normally would mean political suicide. He says his embrace of the word reflects his respect for the black contribution to rock and roll and has another expletive for anyone who disagrees with him.
Heavy duty weapons decorate the stage during his concerts and at his Las Vegas performance he condemned Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Long a critic of drugs, Nugent wrote a recent opinion article for the Wall Street Journal condemning the widespread drug use during the Summer of Love in 1967. He drank just cold water before his Vegas concert.
Nugent still embraces the carnal part of the sex, drugs and rock and roll formula and peppers his concert dialogue with a word describing women that many find offensive.
He described the availability of sex earlier in his life like this: "It was like when carp breed. You walk across the stream and they are ... splashing in the shallows. Just jump in."
Now Nugent says he is a one-woman man, living with his wife and youngest son in Crawford, Texas, near President George W. Bush's ranch. Life is "peaceful, barbecue every day, a lot of school activities with my son Rocco, a lot of charity work."
Although Nugent appears younger than his 58 years (he says freshly hunted venison meat is one secret to longevity), loud music for decades has caused major hearing loss in one ear.
"The ear's not too good, especially with background noise. That's a small price to pay," he said. "Believe me the journey was worth it."
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